Historic Mexico Open debuts on PGA Tour
Record number of Mexicans set for Mexico Open field
Ben Crenshaw and Lee Trevino are among the legends who have won the Mexico Open at Vidanta since its debut in 1944. But this is the first year Mexico’s most prestigious golf tournament will be part of the PGA Tour schedule.
Equally important for the growth of golf, there will be a record 10 Mexicans participating this week in the Mexico Open. Carlos Ortiz and Abraham Ancer, the two most recent Mexican winners on the PGA Tour, lead the group of Mexicans in the field.
Ortiz, the 2020 Houston Open champion, will be joined by his younger brother Álvaro. The Mexico Open was added as the second Mexican tournament on the PGA Tour this season.
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“It’s huge having two PGA TOUR events in our country,” Ancer said. “I think it’s really important. It creates more awareness for the whole country to watch a little bit of golf played in our country, which is not very common, but slowly it’s getting a lot more popular.
“And it also creates opportunities for more Mexicans not only to play an event in our country and to experience what playing at this level is. And the lessons you learn in an event like this are priceless.”
Greg Norman course
The Vidanta Vallarta course is relatively new although the Mexico Open has been held since 1944. Greg Norman designed the course in 2015 on the Nayarit Riviera on the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. It is a par 71 on 7,456 yards along the Ameca Rivera with a picturesque setting with the Sierra Madres on the horizon.
Thanks to American universities, this may be the greatest era for Mexican golfers on the PGA Tour. Mexico was on a 42-year PGA Tour title drought until Guadalajara, Jalisco, native Carlos Ortiz won the Houston Open in November 2020.
Less than a year later, Ancer won the FedEx St. Jude Invitational to become only the fourth Mexican to win a PGA Tour Event. Ancer was actually born in the United States, but he was raised in the early part of his life in Reynosa, Mexico.
Therefore, he is actually a Mexican American like Trevino, a 29-time PGA Tour winner and two-time U.S. Open champion. Ancer, who starred at the University of Oklahoma, is deemed a Mexican player by the PGA.
Cesar Sanudo was the first Mexican to win a PGA Tour event at the 1970 Azalea Open Invitational. Victor Regalado became the second Mexican winner when he won the 1974 Pleasant Valley Classic.
Regalado also won the 1978 John Deere Classic. He remains the only Mexico native with multiple PGA Tour victories. It is important to note that El Paso’s Trevino won the U.S. Open twice and 29 PGA Tour events, so Mexican Americans have definitely starred on tour.
Mexico Open features country’s golf growth
Carlos Ortiz, a former University of North Texas star, is 68th in the FedEx Cup standings. Ancer is 77th.
Now, the Ortiz brothers are pleased to welcome the PGA Tour near their home state of Jalisco. Carlos Ortiz is actually sponsored by Vidanta.
“I’m just a really proud ambassador for them,” Carlos Ortiz said. “And I love that we’re having a PGA Tour tournament and we get to host and receive everyone from the PGA Tour here. I’m extremely proud to be here and then to be hosting a great PGA TOUR event.”
The other Mexicans at the Mexico Open are still trying to establish themselves as professionals. Roberto “Bobby” Díaz, Alvaro Ortiz, Isidro Benítez, Armando Favela, and Manuel Inman are the other Mexican pros in the Mexico Open field.
Diaz attended the University of South Carolina-Aiken. Alvaro Ortiz played at the University of Arkansas. Favela had a distinguished college career at Loyola University Chicago.
The next generation of Mexican stars will also get a taste of the PGA Tour this week. Mexican amateurs Santiago de la Fuente, José Antonio Safa and José Cristóbal Islas will also compete in the Mexico Open.
“If you’re able to do that at a young age, you get prepared or you know what to work on for whenever you go to college or you turn pro,” Ancer said. “So it’s really important for us to have an event here.”
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